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Shoot out for finish

lundi 18 février 2002Information Volvo Ocean Race

After almost 7000 miles of racing, the five leading boats in the Volvo Ocean Race fleet are locked into the tightest of battles. It could almost be likened to a Wild West Shoot Out. The action of the strategy, weather and boat to boat tactics is awe-inspiring and to the dedicated followers it will no doubt, now be bordering on addiction to track the latest position report.

Places have been changing constantly, small gains to the boats behind, followed by another gain to illbruck the race leader. illbruck has seen her lead diminish from almost 100 miles on February 14, to 16 miles yesterday morning. No mean feat to gain a little distance back to 25 miles at the last sked report today. This could all easily be wiped out in the forecasted dying breeze.

Now the final finishing order is in the lap of the weather forecasts and the wind pressure and direction on the race course. After some of the hardest racing, that these crews will ever have experienced, they now have to wind up the concentration to eliminate any possibility of an unnecessary mistake, which could cost valuable distance and mean the difference between first and fifth place.

Mark Rudiger on ASSA ABLOY was worried this morning, that they might even be finishing in tomorrow‚s sea breeze, rather than their predicted finishing time of later today, "One of the big questions today is whether the sea breeze can reach out to us and get us close enough to drift our way in, or do we have to wait for tomorrow’s sea breeze."

"From gybing duel to ’slat fest’ [when the sail slaps against the rig in no wind] and back to gybing duel. So much for sailing in before sunset tonight !"

"It seems like a buoy race off Newport Beach this morning. We are just ahead of Tyco and djuice, gybing on every 15 degree shift. The wind gods have let us down so far, for an evening arrival today. I got the boys kind of cranked up for it yesterday, but the wind not only died off early, but also shifted more behind."

"We all agree however that it doesn’t matter how long it takes, just as long as we beat the other boats. The more time out here, the more time to catch illbruck. Still, it would be nice to beat them and finish sooner rather than later."

Mark then had a second question, which has been on the minds of the navigators since the fleet split at the Falkland Islands, "And will the west win out over the east ?" Finally, he expressed the forthcoming excitement for the spectators, "Stay tuned for an exiting finale, albeit a slow one."

With Tyco, ASSA ABLOY and djuice now in very little wind further inshore, and illbruck, who is sailing in slightly more wind, covering both this pack and Amer Sports One, the next six hours will prove crucial to the outcome of the results of this leg.

The shore teams, supporters and spectators alike can now only sit, wait and watch in admiration as the crews give their last efforts to this exciting finish.

Volvo Ocean Race Position Report, Day 23, 1559 GMT

PS Yacht Latitude Longitude DTF CMG SMG TFHR DTL DTL-C ETA PO
- 1 ILBK 24 00.00S 043 14.12W 00065 339 05.3 228 0 0 19 FEB 02 01:15 29
- 2 AONE 24 20.36S 043 40.00W 00090 359 06.1 219 25 -3 19 FEB 02 04:48 25
- 3 AART 24 13.48S 044 07.72W 00096 349 06.1 224 31 +1 19 FEB 02 05:45 21
- 4 TYCO 24 14.04S 044 06.92W 00096 347 06.8 223 31 0 19 FEB 02 05:35 17
- 5 DJCE 24 14.80S 044 09.08W 00098 357 06.5 224 33 -2 19 FEB 02 05:58 14
- 6 NEWS 29 05.84S 045 35.04W 00394 014 09.7 191 329 -14 21 FEB 02 19
- 7 ATOO 31 58.80S 047 55.20W 00600 032 11.8 249 535 -21 22 FEB 02 7
- 8 TSEB 53 10.16S 070 54.40W - - - - - - - -

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